Some time ago while on a cruise vacation with a number of friends, one of them came down with quite a serious case of Pneumonia.

The ship’s medical doctor helped him enough to be able to continue the rest of the trip with as much enjoyment as possible under the circumstances.

While he had what was thought to be a good travel coverage from his companies benefits plan, he still had to pay for the onboard medical services at the time. And he had to buy the prescriptions as recommended by the doctor.

By having the right travel insurance, or by calling the insurance company in advance, he may not have had to front the costs, which turned out to be quite a significant expenditure.

Instead he had to chase his insurance company after he returned to facilitate the claim and wait for the reimbursement.

There was an important lesson here that pertains to all of us.

We seldom thing about what our company plans cover so don’t even think of packing the policy guidelines with our bags. But it is important to know ahead of time what your policies, company or otherwise actually cover. And what obligations you may have to contact them ahead of time if you encounter a medical issue.

For example it someone in your immediate family at home, not on the vacation with you, encounters a serious medical problem, will your insurance company cover your immediate return trip.

Does the company have toll free contact numbers that actually go to a person who understands medical issues and can give you a rapid response to address your immediate needs.

Do they have arrangements with qualified doctors and hospitals around the world who they have checked out in advance regardless of the country you may be visiting at the time?

The major providers that specialize in travel insurance make sure they have these in order almost around the entire globe in the furthest reaches of nations to which few may travel.

Often if the company doesn’t not feel the care meets Canadian standards, they will fly patients home to make sure their clients get the best care.

There have been reported cases where a doctor will suggest a major operation is required. The medical personnel at the insurance company have assessed the inputs and come to different conclusions. After flying the patient home, in one case a major heart operation was not required and patient recovered quickly after a much simpler procedure.

Travel insurance is often more than about health.

On a cruise particularly what happens if you encounter weather delays and the ship leaves port before you arrive.

A good policy will provide for transportation to the next port of call at their expense.

As expensive as it can be at times, travel insurance is important. Make sure you know what your policy covers, and do what you need to do with extra coverage if necessary to make sure it is sufficient no matter what challenges you encounter.

Most insurance companies use the same actuarial measurement to set prices. There are no bargains so if it looks like a really good deal, check the fine print.